Britain's top paediatricians and childhood vaccination experts have come out in force to condemn how the public has been misled over the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
As many as thirty child health experts warn that children may unnecessarily become ill and even die because parents have been "dangerously misled" over the risks of a MMR vaccine.
The doctors are calling on media, politicians and health professionals to "draw a line under the question of any association between MMR and autism" and insist there is "overwhelming" evidence the jab is safe.
Figures for last year indicate that the immunisation rate in Britain was around the 83 percent mark, but according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 95 percent of a population must be vaccinated in order for the whole community to be protected from potential outbreaks and epidemics.
In March this year the first fatal case of measles in Britain since 1992 was reported and the doctors say the community is now facing a potentially serious situation.
Following years of low uptake, large numbers of unprotected children are now entering school and the doctors say unless the situation is rectified urgently, and children are immunised, there will be further outbreaks and more unnecessary deaths.
In 1998, gastroenterologist Dr. Andrew Wakefield published a study linking the MMR vaccination to the occurrence of autism in children, but his study has since been widely discounted and he is facing charges of unprofessional conduct.
The doctors were apparently prompted to put pen to paper by yet another spate of media reports reigniting concerns about the safety of MMR.
One report concerned a U.S. study that found measles virus in the guts of children with autism but a statement from the principle researcher that the research did not prove a link with the MMR vaccine was largely ignored.
Dr. David Elliman, a consultant in community child health at Great Ormond Street hospital in London and one of the signatories of the letter, says Wakefield's report was a "scare story" and an enormous body of research on MMR has found it to be one of the safest vaccines.
Elliman says in the first five months of this year, there were more cases of measles in England than for the last 12 years and it was to avert a predictable tragedy that he and his colleagues wrote the letter.
The campaign group JABS which wants single vaccines to be offered to everyone, has accused the signatories to the letter and the government of ignoring recent U.S. studies suggesting a link between MMR and autism and say they have never advocated that children be left un-vaccinated.